I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately from friends, family, co-workers, etc. on what I’m training for and what my goals are for Boston. It’s weird for me to be almost a month into 2020 and to not have clear-cut goals defined but my timeline has been a little different this year coming off of CIM in December. Prior to 2019, I had never raced seriously beyond October (Midwest is super dicey past that) and always had November and December as “down” months where I had decreased my mileage and just ran for fun while maintaining a base. That timeframe shifted a bit as a result of racing and I feel like I’m just now getting into more structured marathon training which has made it hard for me to be able to set new goals. This season is a little different trying to race 2 marathons in a 4-month time-span; it seems like a lot of time but it’s really not when you consider that a marathon training cycle itself is typically about 4 months long. Because of this, my goals also look a little different because I want to give my body grace trying to do a quicker turnaround and shorter training cycle. Goals give me something to chase, so here are the goals I have laid out for myself for the Spring:
Boston – The Goal Race
For anyone who has run the Boston Marathon before, you know it’s a grueling course between the hills and the unpredictable weather conditions in April. After talking with my coach and internalizing things a little over the last month, my biggest goal here is to replicate a similar effort from CIM on a tougher course (aka run a course PR). I would love to squeeze out even a small PR but if I can run a similar race on the Boston course as I did in CIM (similar time, negative-splitting), I will consider it a success for my future training goals. We’ll see how training goes over the next 13 weeks to be able to hone in on where my fitness is at and what seems realistic but right now I’m just really grateful for a body that has seemed to bounce back well from CIM and excited to get to run my favorite race in the world in April.
The Half Marathons Along the Way
I am currently signed up to run the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon on March 1st and the Cary March Madness Half Marathon on March 15th. Both courses are hilly and will be a good tune-up for Boston. However, they are two weeks apart so I will not be racing both. Between my coach and I, we will decide which race makes more sense to run race pace and which should be more of a workout effort (or simply a supported long run). I signed up knowing I wouldn’t be racing both but the thought of going to the Trials really excited me and the Cary course is only 25 minutes away from home and on a bunch of hills that were great training for Boston last year (I ran a 1:32 here last year in favorable weather conditions, which at the time was a PR). Right now I don’t have specific goals for the race, but I would love to run a sub-1:30 on one of these courses. My PR was set back in November at Indy Monumental (1:27:48) which was a very flat, fast course, so being able to run a 1:29 or better on a more challenging course would indicate that I’m in shape for a faster marathon. One of my goals for 2020 in general is to get more comfortable running sub-1:30 halves since I’ve only done it once before!
Beyond the Spring
I plan to take time off from structured training after Boston through May to just enjoy running and life! I qualified for the NYC Marathon through both the Indy Monumental Half and CIM so I will be signing up for guaranteed entry to the race (and hopefully getting in since they seem to limit the number of qualifiers from non-NYRR races!). Assuming I get into NYC, it will be my goal race for the Fall. I am really excited to put a big, scary goal out there for the future – I want to chase down a sub-3 hour marathon in the near future. Like Boston, NYC is a tough course with lots of hills so I don’t have specific goals just yet, but I want to chip away at that sub-3 goal and run another strong marathon on a tough course. I don’t have a set timeline on achieving this goal and respect the heck out of it, but I feel so privileged to have it be within the realm of possibility and excited to work towards it in the future! If for some reason my guaranteed entry to NYC doesn’t go through, I’ll be readjusting my plans, but I have a backup if need be – just not sharing that yet because the Fall is so far away and I’m not ready to make firm goals!
Overarching 2020 Goals
Apart from my own personal running goals this year, one of my biggest goals is to grow my coaching roster under Team Sugar Runs and pour a lot of my time and energy into my athletes. I have found my passion and this is something I want to eventually take full-time; it’s going to require a lot of work to get to that place! Chasing my own running goals gives me the energy and excitement to pour into chasing goals in other areas of my life, but I see 2020 as being more of a building-block year for myself to be able to run down big goals in the future. I would love to squeeze some PRs out of this year but I know I’ve chosen 2 races with challenging courses so I know things will look a little different! But I’m not writing that story just yet…there are still over 11 months left in the year and anything could happen!
Some Other Thoughts on My Mind
I fell in love with the marathon again in 2019 but my original goal was to spend spring 2020 working on half marathon speed again. That changed when the urge to run Boston again consumed me but I think the half marathon is a distance I have more untapped potential in as I’ve only ever focused on it for one cycle. It’s possible I may change things up in the Fall and decide to focus more on the half with the added component of running NYC and getting my 4th World Marathon Major Star, but thankfully I don’t have to decide that just yet. I love the half marathon distance because my body has less fast-twitch muscle and likes more longer distance, but it’s a race I can run faster in and take more risks because you can always run another one in a month or so, unlike a marathon where you really only get one quality shot in a 4-6 month time span (note: there are exceptions to this rule, but generally when you’ve run race pace for a marathon, your body isn’t going to be able to replicate that effort shortly after; typically you’ll see people jump into a second marathon after a race hasn’t gone to plan and they didn’t actually get to run their race pace so their body wasn’t trashed). I want to chase sub-3, but the half marathon is tugging at my heart strings and so it’s something I’m considering. I think the marathon gets a lot of attention and other races seem to not be as glamorized or held with the same amount of respect, but I think training for any other distance at a high level requires just as much dedication and commitment (maybe just a little less on the time end of not having to run those 20+ mile runs) and these are the race distances that often make a stronger marathoner in the end.
If nothing else from this post, I think you’re probably getting the message that my mind is conflicted! My body seems to be cooperating, but my mind isn’t quite sure what it wants with this 2020 season, and that’s ok. For now, I’m going to keep following the plan and doing my workouts to be able to set myself up for whatever I decide to go after but I’ll be staying in touch with what my heart wants and communicating with my coach who will help guide the training. Ultimately the decision is up to me, but I truly appreciate having someone who is able to separate my emotions from what is truly the best decision for me with my future goals in mind!